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The Dreaded “L” Word

One slow Saturday morning not so very long ago, I was snuggling with my daughter in her bed. And from my vantage point two inches away, I noticed a bug crawling around her ear.

So much for that slow Saturday morning. I jumped up and combed my fingers through her hair, searching to see if my fear was confirmed—what do lice look like anyway?

When I found four or five little bugs crawling in her hair, I freaked out—how did she get lice? How long had she had them? How do I get rid of them? Can I burn the house down and start again?

I was embarrassed. I had noticed her scratching her head, but I thought it was because her hair was tangled and she resisted my brushing it out. And then I was embarrassed about her tangly hair. My sense of my own incompetence as a parent grew.

After googling next steps and texting a couple of friends for advice, I went out for supplies. Three hours later, I had combed out a disgusting number of bugs. But I had no confidence that they were gone.

We were to leave town the next day, and I could not bear to think of my daughter passing along lice to our friends. So, despite being prone to frugality and most definitely averse to being “high maintenance,” I nonetheless called the local “professional lice removal service.” Have you heard of these? They cost a fortune, but they promise that you leave lice-free. When I made the appointment, the kind woman advised me to bring my son in as well “just to be sure.”

As I pulled up to the nondescript white house with the Lice Lifters sign, I started to feel a sense of relief. Swallowing my pride, we headed in.

My son went first for his check—he too had the dreaded bugs. And then the woman suggested I be checked as well. Me? Yes, me.

And you guessed it—I too was in need of professional help.

What began as an embarrassing problem became much worse. I was repulsed. Ashamed. Dirty. Bugs were crawling in my hair!

Have you ever felt like I did? Repulsed? Ashamed? Dirty? Have you ever wanted to hide something about yourself?

We all have secrets. We’ve all messed up. We’ve sinned and hurt others. We’re broken. We’ve been sinned against and hurt by other people.

And we don’t want anyone else to know our secrets because other people seem so clean. So beautiful. So whole.

We are all like the younger brother, the prodigal son, covered in pig scraps and mud, embarrassed to show our faces in front of our fathers and elder brothers.

But Jesus says to us: Come. Come to me if you are tired and carrying a heavy burden. Come home to me. Come.

Anna Moseley Gissing

Anna Moseley Gissing is Associate Academic Editor of InterVarsity Press. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, and her writing has been published in Let us Keep the Feast and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two kids, and she aspires to more reading, more writing, and more patience.

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